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Lien Sales

Mechanical liens are a type of lien that can be placed on a vehicle when repairs or maintenance services have been performed but payment has not been made. In California, the DMV governs the process for enforcing these liens and conducting lien sales. The lien gives the repair shop the legal right to retain possession of the vehicle until payment is made or to sell the vehicle to recoup the costs of the unpaid services.

In California, the process for enforcing a mechanical lien involves giving notice to the owner of the vehicle and any other interested parties, such as lienholders or insurance companies. The notice must include information about the lien, the amount owed, and the deadline for payment. If payment is not made by the deadline, the repair shop may sell the vehicle through a lien sale. The proceeds of the sale are used to pay off the amount owed to the repair shop, and any remaining funds are returned to the owner of the vehicle.


Overall, understanding the process for enforcing a mechanical lien in California is important for both repair shops and vehicle owners. For repair shops, it ensures that they are able to recoup the costs of unpaid services. For vehicle owners, it serves as a reminder to pay for services in a timely manner to avoid the potential for a lien sale.

Frequently Asked Questions & Common Scenarios For Lien Sales​

As it pertains to the lien sale process, the lien holder is the individual or company that is conducting the lien sale. They are the person or entity that needs to have a balance paid or a vehicle removed.

A lien sale is a DMV procedure that may be used by individuals, mechanics, body shops, junk yards or law enforcement to collect fees due for unpaid and overdo services, notify registered owners or interested parties or legal owners that there is a balance due, or that a vehicle has been abandoned or abated. In the case of a mechanic or body shop, It allows the lien holder to recover their costs, in the case of law enforcement or individuals, to notify interested parties that this vehicle needs to be removed or it will be sold and or destroyed.

  • If you owe a repair shop/mechanic fees for services, and you do not pay, a lien sale will be triggered by them to recover their costs
  • If you’ve abandoned a vehicle on a private property, and the individual wants it removed.
  • If a vehicle has been deemed abandoned by law enforcement
  • If a vehicle has been received by a junk yard.
  • Abandoned/abated vehicles: Vehicles that are valued under $500 have lien sales that are conducted within 15 days. These are usually conducted by law enforcement or junk yards.
  • Short liens or vehicles valued under $4000: this lien sale is for vehicles that are valued under $4000. They usually take 31 days or so to complete and the maximum allowable fee to charge is $70.
  • Long liens or vehicles valued over $4000 or are in a storage facility: this lien sale is for high value vehicles or vehicles that are stored in a storage facility. For storage facilities, the lien sale will be a long lien by default. These lien sales usually go between 60 and 90 days. Also note, the lien sale in essence goes in 2 parts, and is very thorough.
  • Vessel lien sales valued under $1500: this is a boats versions of a “short” lien. The only condition with this one is that you must come in with an appraisal from a vessel dealer confirming tha tit is under $1500 in value.
  • Vessel lien sales valued over $1500: this is a boat’s version of a “long” line. The process for this is around 60 to 90 days and does NOT require an appraisal.
  • Per the DMV manual, these are the maximum fees allowable to be charged:
    • Short lien: $70
    • Long lien: $100
  • Note: these fees will vary – there are companies that conduct lien sales at a very high volume, and therefore offer a low rate for their service. In addition, there are other companies that charge their service fee, plus costs associated with the fee, such as postage, an ad that needed to be placed, or other costs that are needed to be paid to conduct the lien sale.
  • People use the lien sale process to obtain ownership/title to a vehicle. Either they purchased the vehicle from someone that did NOT have the title or bill of sale or proper documentation, OR, they had the paperwork and now lost it. The lien sale process is NOT allowed in these scenarios. The DMV, as difficult as they can be, offers solutions to this scenario. Our office deals in title reconstructions/bonded titles – so if that is the case with you – contact us regarding that – and DO NOT process a lien sale.
  • Home mechanics or body shops that are operating without the proper licensing for BAR cannot collect repairs in the lien sale. They are only allowed to charge storage fees.
  • You cannot perform a lien sale on a unit that does not have a VIN – if you cannot locate a VIN it is advisable that you contact a VIN verification company to attempt to locate it. Ultimately, you cannot do a lien sale on a vehicle that does not have a VIN.
  • Dealerships cannot perform lien sales for the purposes of obtaining a title, however, if the vehicle is in their possession due to repairs that were done, that does allow them to perform a lien sale on the vehicle.
  • If a lien sale was conducted on your vehicle, but the lien sale never finalized, there may be a VLT stop on file. To remove it you must have a Vin verification done on your vehicle to confirm that you actually have possession of the vehicle.
  • Per Chapter 18 of the DMV manual, the lien sale process does NOT “erase”, “void”, “waive” any back fees or penalties that were due on the vehicle.

Start Your Lien Sale Today

How to register a lien sale car in California. Re-registering a vehicle that was solid at a lien sale auction requires that you have the following from the lien holder (person who conducted the lien sale):
  • REG 168 A form (certification of lien sale for vehicle valued $4000 or less – Civil Code 3072)

  • A bill of sale from the lien holder to the buyer (yourself)

  • A reg 343 form (application for title or registration)

  • A reg 156 form (application for replacement plates, stickers, documents)

The following information is your information. You are considered the "lien holder". Please make sure to fill out all of the fields.
The following information pertains to the vehicle that you want to do a lien sale on. It is imperative that the information you provide is 100% accurate. Partial information will result in delays.
The following information is the information for the dates this came into your possession, the name, address and other contact information you may have for the customer or individual who left the vehicle.
The information that you have inserted in this form is the information that we will use to conduct the lien sale. Any omissions of key information may impact the validity of the lien sale. Under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California, you are attesting to the truthfulness of the information mentioned in this form. Quick Auto Tags is a licensed registration service located @ 5586 Mission Blvd, Riverside, CA 92509. Please call us @ 951-409-9091 in case you have any questions or concerns. The submission of this form will initiate the lien sale process.

Note: In addition to the documents requested above, if your vehicle has no California record/has been registered out of state, you will need the following:

  • A Vin Verification

  • A smog

  • If it is a commercial vehicle, you will need a weighmaster certificate

Where do you register a lien sale car in California. When it comes to where to go, you have a few choices. One of them is NOT AAA – they do not process these applications
  • The DMV itself

  • Proxy service – registration service – although we cannot immediately process your application like a regular transfer ,we can assist you in getting the paperwork in order and taking your application to the DMV.

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Quick Auto Tags - Riverside

5586 Mission Blvd Riverside, CA 92509 Tel: 951-409-9091

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Quick Auto Tags - La Puente

13732 Amar Rd Ste A La Puente, CA 91746 Tel: 626-205-3959


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Quick Auto Tags

Quick Auto Tags 5586 Mission Blvd Ste B Riverside, CA 92509
Tel: (951)409-9091